"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
-- Edward Winslow, recounting the first Pilgrim Thanksgiving, Mourt's Relation
As Madeline and I drove up through the Emerald City-like gate to the private driveway, I had an overwhelming realization: Buck was sick rich like nobody I'd ever seen before. I felt like one of the nuns who vomited when witnessing the disparity between the Papa Doc Duvalier palace and the mud shacks of the Haitian poor.
In the two years since they moved into their voluminous 8,000-square-footer on the edge of Virginia's suburbs, the Bennett family has not once used their formal dining room, where the table is eternally set for eight with crystal, an empty tea set and two unlighted candles.
-- Stephanie McCrummen,
Washington Post Staff Writer, "Taste for Space Is Spawning Mansions Fit for a Commoner: Hot Housing Market Opens Doors to Mini-Taj Mahals" Washington Post, November 20, 2005
"Oh my fucking god."
-- Neddie Jingo, on a casual drive this morning, taking photographs of a neighborhood in the western suburbs of Leesburg, Virginia
Not even guests use the palmy, bamboo morning room beyond it; and the museum-like space Bonnie Bennett calls the Oriental Room -- all black lacquer and inlaid pearl, fur, satin and swirling mahogany -- is also gloriously superfluous.
"It's kind of stupid, because we never sit in here," said Bennett, 32, who bought the largest house she could for the investment.
But she carried around a crumpled photo of the furniture for eight years, and now that she has space for it, she admires it as others might a work of art.
"It's just me," she said.
-- Washington Post, Ibid.
Meanwhile, in Dranesville, Waterford Custom Homes has found a niche building what sales director Debra King, 47, calls "affordable mansions for regular people" in the $2 million-to-$4 million range.
To advertise, King and her husband, Michael Iacovacci II, built their own 14,000-square-foot home on Route 7 near the Loudoun County border, a formidable cultured-stone mansion with turrets and fountains and iron gates with roaring black lions.
Inside, the foyer soars three stories to a small dome that is being painted with cherubs but is now just chubby heads floating in a cloud of blue.
Iacovacci, 42, a down-to-earth man who recently threw a party for 100 people with a full orchestra, thinks it's a gas.
"Look in here!" he said, waving toward the dining room and its reproduction of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. "You ever seen seating for 20?!"
They figured that their house, which is still under construction, would represent the high end of what people wanted -- until a client recently requested a 23,000-square-foot rambler, a size approaching that of the Taj Mahal, which is about 35,000 square feet.
-- Washington Post, Ibid.
There was a palm-studded island sculpted out of textured cement around the ultra-blue waters of Buck's vast, many-laned, cloverleaf-interchange-esque swimming arena. You could almost see the ghostly echoes of past poolside action in your third eye: women with 13-inch waists in vinyl G-strings and breasts the size of speaker cabinets discussing pilot options, ooutrageously bombed on hunger and Chardonnay and vitamin B and the kind of screaming pink self-loathing that burns supersonically through all psyches in L.A. like a dated racing stripe.
-- Cintra Wilson
There are two exits from this Gilded Ghetto; both empty directly out onto Route 7, which is one of the busiest highways in the United States. To go in the eastward direction (toward Washington and their jobs), people leaving this neighborhood have to cross the westbound lane and merge eastbound. During rush hour this must be simply impossible. There are no breaks in the traffic. You drive past at 8 AM; queues of Hummers ten deep wait in vain for a break in traffic, gallons of gas burning away as they idle fruitlessly. One is tempted to salute them with a finger. Or worse.
-- Neddie Jingo
"We have a media room in the basement, a pool table and a moon bounce, so I don't have to take the kids out and fight traffic," said Skinner, 32, a former art director who lives there with her husband; their two children; and, at times, family and friends who come on weekends. "We enjoy it more when the kids come here and play. Specifically, I'm weird, but I'm supersensitive to the kids getting snatched. Like at Chuck E. Cheese, I have to constantly watch them." --
Washington Post, Ibid.
Did you catch that? A moon bounce in the basement, so she doesn't have to worry about her kid getting snatched at Chuck E. Cheese.
-- Neddie Jingo
As the Psihases saw it, moving into a bigger house was not something to be questioned, but something to be accepted, an axiom of American life.
"Bigger bigger, better better," Georgia Psihas said. "It's just a part of life."
And one that builders understand very well.
In Orlando, workers are busy finishing up the New American Dream Home, the showpiece of the annual national conference of home builders.
It will be 9,506 square feet, a place Alex Hannigan, the builder, calls "an all-about-me home."
It has a guest wing, five fireplaces, three laundries, a hobby room, an elevator, a spa, a home theater, a summer kitchen, a chandelier lift -- not things that the average American can necessarily afford at the moment, Hannigan said.
But, he added, "we figured we'd make this home in keeping with where our country's going."
-- Washington Post, Ibid.
"For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned by true reports."
William Bradford, Of Plymouth PlantationAll photographs taken by me this morning.